Cory Tymich and Sally Kong [standing] , and some of the artists who participated in the Alderbridge lobby art project [sitting].
When you walk into the lobby of the Alderbridge site, a new, vibrant art display might catch you eye. The 28 canvas exhibit, painted in collaboration by participants of the Richmond Mental Health Consumer and Friends Society (RCFC), clients of Richmond Mental Health and Substance Use services, and the Anne Vogel Clinic, depicts scenes from around our community and what Richmond means to them.
Ruth was one of the many artists that participated in the collaborative project and says she wanted to participate to get involved in the community and help fight the stigma of mental health.
“I was diagnosed as bipolar 15 years ago and art has always been very therapeutic for me," she says. “The group has been very accepting and collaborative, and coming in to work on the project just became part of my weekly routine—it was nice to have structure and the opportunity to do something I enjoy."
Over the past year, the art program met for a few hours each week to sketch, paint, and plan what the display would look like. Some would contribute the more technical aspects of the design, while others would fill in colours or put the finishing touches on the canvases. The result is a beautiful collage of images surrounding a map of Richmond that add colour and character to the entrance of the clinic.
Client Chris, a former architect, says being part of the project instilled confidence and huge sense of accomplishment.
“It's all about connection," he says, adding that the group members became like family to him. “It's a chance to be social, get to know people, and benefit from each other."
And while the group started out meeting at scheduled times, the project evolved, and eventually saw clients coming in on their own time to help finish off the display. Something Executive Director of RCFC Cory Tymich says really surprised him.
“The wall in the lobby was left for us in planning for the building, so we wanted to come up with a concept that really represented our clients and staff," he says. “The end result is incredible. The team was so invested in the project—it was really great to see."
And while the project's main goal was to create something beautiful for the lobby of the clinic, many of the team members walked away with something much more powerful: confidence.
“Once I take something on, I like to complete it," says Ruth. “The project helped me become more confidant—more comfortable with my illness, embracing it, and seeing what I can accomplish."
The team would like to extend a huge thank you to the Richmond Hospital Foundation for their support in providing the art supplies for the project. The team hopes to secure more funding in the future, and perhaps an art instructor, so they can continue create more beautiful works of art to share with the community and help clients build more confidence and skills.
If you'd like to donate to RCFC, please visit vch.ca/RCFC.